Rallisport Challenge Preview

Rally racing on the Xbox.

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Xbox owners who are longing for a bit more variety in their racing games will be pleased to see a rally racing game for the system on the horizon: Rally Sport Challenge. Developed by Digital Illusions, Rally Sport Challenge aims to offer a good amount of variety and keep the action accessible to speed demons everywhere. Microsoft stopped by today to give us a look at the game, and the 75-percent-complete build we played showed a great deal of promise, offering variety, solid control, and beautiful graphics.

Check out the detail.
Check out the detail.

The game will offer several modes of play, including instant action, single race, time attack, multiplayer, and career. Instant action is just what it sounds like--a mode that lets you quickly hop into a race after a few button presses. In this mode, you'll find yourself racing on either a track slick with ice that will have you skidding everywhere if you're not careful or an equally challenging rally track that offers a variety of surfaces to contend with. Single race lets you race on any unlocked track in the game against three computer opponents. Time attack challenges you to beat a track's best time, and you'll be able to save "ghosts" of your best times and compete against yourself. Multiplayer mode, which wasn't enabled in the build we saw, allows you to race against a friend on any of the game's unlocked tracks. Finally, career--the main meat of the game--challenges you to compete in 18 events that are broken down into three to five races each, which means you'll be testing your skills in roughly 60 races in all.

Trying to take first place
Trying to take first place

You'll find a total of 48 tracks in the game, and there are 29 cars from such well-known rally racing names as Audi, Citroen, Ford, Lancia, MG, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Opel, Peugeot, Renault, Saab, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Suzuki. The cars will offer a good amount of variety, with many manufacturers offering several different car types that will come in handy when competing in the various races. You'll find several race types, such as the aforementioned standard rally and ice racing, as well as a hill climb race that will challenge you to race to the top of a hill as quickly as possible. Racing successfully isn't too hard to do once you put some time into the game. The game's control is solid, featuring a slightly more forgiving arcade-style feel that helps keep the game accessible.

Graphically, the game is already extremely impressive, featuring detailed car models--each car will be made up of roughly 13,000 polygons--and beautifully textured environments with wide-open spaces. Particle effects kick up dirt and snow as you tear through the tracks, and the glint of ice on the road will flare as you race. Although the build we played was early, the frame rate was already quite high, maintaining a speed of nearly 60 frames per second.

Rally Sport Challenge is due in spring 2002, and it's looking very promising. Look for more on the game as it nears release.

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